Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Uniquely American" -6/24/03 Pia V. Pulido

"Uniquely American" -6/24/03 Pia V. Pulido

Every summer, when the heatwave prickles through my skin, I think of that place where I was born,
In a tropical archipelago made up of 7,000 islands
On the side of the Pacific Ocean
Where a unique blend of east and west make up its people and culture.

Every summer, the color of my skin gets darker-
The evidence of my Malay, Chinese, Spanish, and Arab roots.
Whenever I think of that place, I remember devouring a yellow-red freshly picked mango,
Plump and cold with the juice dripping down to my elbow.

I remember hopping over the papaya and banana leaves scattered in my mother's old backyard,
I remember those sweet, familiar scents of summer sun mixing with tropical heat.
On long hot summer nights, I look up to the skies and close my eyes
And dream of this one small island.

A beautiful place it is, it is the island of Boracay,
At the northwestern tip of Panay,
A butterfly shaped isle filled with palm trees, white powder fine sands and turquoise waters.
The waves overlapping each other, swaying back and forth,
Lulling me back to my native tongue.

But my daydreams of that place
Always takes me back here
Where I live
Where I belong
Where I've become...

A freedom lover
With a powerful voice,
Standing tall with independence.

This is no dream,
For every summer around the Fourth of July,
I celebrate myself
As uniquely American.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Importance of Summer Reading: Some Helpful Tips for Parents

Helpful Tips to Foster a Love of Reading for Lifelong Learners - From the Desk of Mrs. Pulido

As an educator, I believe that summer reading is important in developing lifelong reading habits, maintaining literary skills, and promoting reading for pleasure. Students who continue to read during the summer perform better when school resumes in the fall.
Although I understand that when summer vacation starts, we are all tempted to put away our books altogether and be outside riding our bikes, playing softball, or cooling off in the pool. I also understand that as a parent, committing your child to reading, even just for a little each day, is a struggle especially when outdoor activities and distractions of TV, video games, and the Internet seem more exciting.

Here are some helpful tips to foster a love of reading for your child:

1. Read together. You don't necessarily have to read the same books, but by simply sharing the experience of reading with them, you are more likely to get them motivated to read enthusiastically.
2. Set aside family time to bond through reading. You can do this by going to a coffee shop, bookstore, or a library together to make reading a fun experience to remember.
3. Ask them what book they are currently reading and use this as a topic of conversation with them.
4. Help them select a book that might pique their interest.
5. Encourage them to join/form a book club. When reading becomes a social experience, kids become more enthusiastic and more motivated. Check with your local library for summer reading incentives.
6. Encourage them to keep a log/journal of their reading minutes to help them keep track of their progress.
7. Create a book trailer video by using Animoto (www.animoto.com), a video slideshow maker with music.
8. Use sidewalk chalk and draw three squares in a row to create a giant "storyboard" to draw and/or write the beginning, middle, and end of a book they just read to summarize important narrative elements. You could also do the same with 2x2 squares: top left - CHARACTERS top right - SETTING bottom left - CONFLICT bottom right - RESOLUTION
9. Check out a bilingual book that has English and another language you want to learn together. Read it in English first. Then try it in the second language and read it again to make a memory game of new vocabulary learned.
10. Find a recipe to make with your children before or after they finish the book. Edible playdough could go with any story, or find a popular book with food-related themes, such as Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, or invite their friends to make a friendship fruit salad (try this recipe: http://www.grouprecipes.com/10851/friendship-fruit-salad.html to go with Toad and Frog.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Junior Writers' Workshop: Summer Camp 2012


Many of you have expressed an interest in my creative writing camp this summer, and I am very grateful for the response. It is parents like you who support the cause and keep teachers like me motivated to do more! It speaks volumes about how much you care for your children and their education.

This year, I am grateful to be in a position where I can offer a special discounted rate for the camp. While most art camps cost almost $200 per week (full day) to cover the cost of facilities, overhead, and payment for specialized instructors I will charge $80 for one week per child in my home. Each additional child within the family is $10. Hours are 9AM to 1pm Monday through Friday on July 23rd - July 27th. Materials are provided (including a signed copy of my second book TERRIBLE TREVOR, a $15 value), but please bring your own sack lunch, drink, and snack daily. We will have a "mini-field trip" on Friday (venue still TBD, but either a nearby park, a pastry shop, or a bookstore) to showcase our masterpieces in front of an audience (friends/family). Space is limited. Please secure your spot by turning in your registration form attached at your earliest convenience. Registration deadline is Friday, July 13th. Payment method is cash, check, credit card in person or via Paypal in our website: www.thelivingdaylightsco.com

As always, please do not hesitate to email me if you have any questions or concerns piavpulido@gmail.com. Read course description. If you would like to register, please email me.
Creative Writing Course Description:

This year’s theme is “Wake UP and Dream BIG!” Following the basic structure of common writing traits, participants will hear short stories each day relating to their lives and how certain choices affect their future. Using group discussions, multisensory activities, performance arts, and collaborative projects, the young writers will identify common elements and brainstorm how these elements will help them develop a perspective of their own personal future. Using writing prompts and illustrations, writers will create a story of what they hope to see and become, and what impact they want to secure their future.

See you all soon!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"Move Forward with Fervency" 6/10/2010

Every morning, at the hour when you've finally given up closing your eyes,
You hold on to a strong desire to keep moving forward with fervency.
But you're drifting away
In this massive ocean of self-inflicted
Chaos and uncertainty.

The crashing waves hit you as you hope for a second chance,
Seducing you with desire to take refuge at the Devil's Dance.
You get up to face the world, but still fear the raging storms are near,
Abruptly interrupting the soothing, melancholic
Four chords of your painful, irrevocable verse,
Prose, song, prayer
Together symbolic
Of your heartbreak.

It's easy to take refuge in some other time,
But you know better.
Time is not in anyone's hands.

So you move forward,
Despite the wind over water
Pushing you,
Holding you back
Further away from where you want to go.
Still you move forward with fervency.

Maybe when you reach the shore,
You'll find it again -
Your paradise.
The perfect blend of fortune and prosperity,
Dreams not elusive, but within reach.
The warm morning sun prickling
Like gentle kisses on your cheeks,
Bringing light in your heart again,
So you can sing the songs that make me smile
And play your guitar without the guilt.

Pia Villanueva-Pulido

Thursday, May 3, 2012


All posts are entirely my own and do not necessarily reflect any views of my employer.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wild About Writing: Jack London's Call of the Wild

1. Through reading some excerpts and parts of Jack London’s Call of the Wild, writers will study the importance of adapting to the changes in one’s life and environment.
2. Writers will explore the theme of survival of the fittest.
3. Writers will write effectively to express personal ideas.

Summary: This novel is a classic dog story that explores the role environment plays in shaping character. Buck is a privileged, dignified dog who is taken from his southern Californian home and shipped to Alaska during the 1890’s Gold Rush. Along the way, Buck is beaten and mistreated by a series of dog owners and learns to survive as a member of a dog sled team. He becomes the leader of the pack. (refer to “Law of Club and Fang”).

Materials Needed:
Call of the Wild novel provided by the public library
Writing tools
Basic art supplies
Banner paper
Big Read website and lesson plans

Sample Session Activities:

Icebreaker Activity: Give Example Questions for 15 Seconds Game. Take only 15 seconds to answer each question read aloud by the teacher. Sample questions:
1. Tell us about a real or imaginary place you’d like to visit.
2. If you were stranded in the wilderness, what would be the first thing you would do?
3. If you could transform into any animal, what would it be and why?
4. What is your favorite food? Describe as best as you can.
5. If you could be any person from any story, who would it be and why?
6. What is your favorite thing to do on a Saturday morning?
7. What is your favorite movie?
8. Describe something you like that is green.

Words of Wonder Wall: Introduce the Wonder Wall to students and model activity. Short one minute writing prompt could be used for the Wonder Wall.

Introduction to Jack London/Biography:
Mention White Fang and other famous works of author

Pre-reading strategies and focus activities:
1. Distribute novels to students. Have them write their names. Allow time to skim through titles of chapters throughout the novel.
2. Book and chapter titles provide clues to content, hinting at actions to come. What does the title The Call of the Wild suggest that the book will be about? What do the titles of the first three chapters suggest? Write your answers in your sketchbook/notebook/spiral

1. Pair up with a classmate and, based on the titles, predict what will happen to Buck the dog.
2. Make note of your predictions so that you can check them later.

Setting a Purpose for Reading:
Read together or separately throughout these few weeks to discover how Buck is used to living and what changes he must endure.

Discussion Panel or Writing Prompt:
Character Development (Rephrase this question in its most simplest form for the younger writers).
In many stories and novels, the goal of the main character is to improve himself or herself
in some way. In The Call of the Wild, the narrator points out that once Buck learns
to steal food, his moral decay has begun. He then says that this is vital, or absolutely
necessary, for Buck’s survival. In one or two paragraphs, explain what this means. Do
you agree with the narrator’s statement? Why or why not?

Word Storm:
(for pre-assessment in vocabulary and other content areas)
Have students jot down any word they think of when they think about the word “WILDERNESS.”
For example: WILDERNESS
Dark, woods, deep, lost, survival, wolves, animals, forest, branches, trees, hunger, thirst, death, uncivilized, wild, frightening,

Make a graphic organizer to categorize words listed per number of syllables. Assign the word: WILDERNESS and have them think of words that relate to WILDERNESS per syllable.

For example:
1 syllable: Wild, dark, woods, cold, lost,
2 syllables: forest, branches, hunger
3: survival, frightening
4: uncivilized

Writing Exercise:
Write a short scene (with the setting of the wilderness), 200 words or less, involving yourself and another character (a wild animal or any other form of character) using first person singular. Then rewrite the scene in 3rd person.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"The Melancholy of Age" - A Writing Prompt Collaboration via Facebook Friends

Looking back five years ago, seeing the world through her eyes is a little different now. She sees not through the theories of a solid education, but through the eyes of a unique experience. Five years ago, as she made her way sleepily from her bed past the doorway, she witnessed something singular which stopped her in her tracks: her mother levitating a coffee cup almost casually making a miracle in her kitchen.

Ever since then, her filter changed. The fog of sadness left her, and she began to unfreeze. Movement replaced sadness. Passion replaced complacency. Still there was no happiness because there was still pain, and the struggle continues. From the horrible shock of her lasik surgery gone wrong to the point of almost incurable blindness to witnessing something magical, the past five years have become a distant memory. But not the pain.

Today it crossed her mind quite distinctly, in fact, that when she was young, she had a strong sense of infinite possibilities. Travel the world and make her mark? Of course! Write a Pulitzer Prize winning fiction? Only a matter of time! Create positive change in children’s education? Naturally!

But the melancholy of growing older had blurred her shared vision with her companion. The back pains, the headaches, and the tired feet were all too obvious tell-tale signs of her reaching a certain age. Her tears flowed and made way for that painful longing to crawl out of the long, dark tunnel. Feeling the weight of everything and carrying the burdens of her family, she is perpetually exhausted. The only reason she gets up in the morning to fulfill the mundane list of daily tasks is because of that coffee cup. By habit, the first thing she would do is to make coffee and stare at the very same cup, hoping to accomplish the same act of miracle that she caught her mother doing. It hasn’t happened yet. There must be something else missing.

"A Choice and A Chance" - Part Two of the Very Short Story

Your mother lied to you. That’s the truth.”

Robert was already spitting venom just moments before when they got off the cab on a rainy afternoon. After waiting twenty minutes in silence to get a table at the Gin&Jacket, Natalie hoped the conversation in the cab would be nothing but a faded memory, like a half-forgotten dream.

It didn't happen. He was still seething.

Natalie didn't appreciate his tone at all, but still she sat there calmly waiting for him to lash out some more. Maybe he just needed to let it out. She brushed her hair back with her fingers, untangling them as she rested her elbow on the table. She needed to do something, and her long, straight hair was just about the only thing in her life she could control.

“She said she wanted you to have it all, but really, she just wanted to punish you; make you work for it and see if you would survive the whole thing. You can’t even begin to know the damage you've caused from your own complacency, ” Robert didn't even bother to stop to breathe in between his sentences.

"My mother? Punish me? Complacency?" She echoed. "I am not..." In contrast to Robert, Natalie had lost her ability to even finish a single sentence.

It was always her fault. Now her heart pounded loudly, and she wanted to throw her vodka tonic to his face and smash the glass on his head. Instead she bit her lip.

Girl, don't you dare throw that expensive drink on him! He's not worth it!

Breathe, she told herself.

She didn't say a word at all. She sat there listlessly and took out a crisp, hundred-dollar bill, which was enough to cover both of their drinks, plus a generous tip to the cocktail waitress.

She looked at him straight in the eye and still without saying a word, she told him to go to hell.

Then she put her coat on and walked out the door. She never looked back. She was making a deliberate choice to take a chance.

She may be young but she’s not stupid. She knew when someone was baiting her. It was obvious he was just waiting for her to react a certain way so that she could lose it. In public. She almost did, but she didn’t want to play that game with him anymore.

Especially not him. Robert was a master manipulator, skilled in puppeteering humans for a living. A handsome, scruffy food and beverage critic and consultant, Robert schmoozed his way to the top with fine dining patrons and restaurateurs in New York City. He was used to getting the finer things in life handed to him on a silver platter. Literally. 

Fancy Dining Handed To Him on a Silver Platter (Casa Monica St. Augustine)

 She couldn’t allow herself to take in anything from him now. She needed to get away from him. Years of verbal abuse made her numb and that was to her advantage. She didn’t look back because she didn't feel anything. She was going to go ahead and do it anyway.

 It was her call, not his. Nobody could make her change her mind; not even him. He no longer had power over her. She no longer allowed her feelings for him to take control.

Finally, Natalie was now the cold, distant bitch that he had always called her when he was in his tirade of insults.

She rememebered her happier times when she would tell him, “You could make a living doing that kind of thing.”

“I suppose I could,” he responded, sheepishly. “But I never thought about it, until now.”

She realized now that he knew all along what he wanted to do for a living, but he, as a master manipulator, he wanted her to think that she was the one who came up with the idea in the first place.

He really was a snake, and she should have listened to everyone else who saw this coming. She felt so stupid, but she couldn’t regret her choices now. She just needed to keep walking. In the cold busy streets, it was loud. Street vendors calling her attention, cabs honking, pedestrians whistling, everyone hustling, she was slowly fading. Everyone’s pace got faster each step she took. She couldn’t catch up with the rest of them.

After walking several blocks, she finally decided to hail a cab back to the loft.

“35th and 5th, please,” she called out to the driver.

She leaned against the window but felt something peculiar in her seat. She dug under and realized that she had found a diamond bracelet in the back of the car.

“Excuse me, sir,” she called out to the driver. But he kept driving. The foreign radio was loud and he stared straight ahead.

She examined the jewelry a little bit closer. Maybe it’s CZ. Nobody would miss this. She hoped it was the real thing, though. It could be just her ticket out of this mess. She needed to pay them back soon as the deadline is fast approaching. She didn’t want to mess with the loan sharks. She needed the money. They came to a stop light.

"Is this for real? Lost and found in a NYC taxicab!" Napoleon Diamond Necklace 

She hurriedly threw a few bucks at the driver and said, “This is my stop after all. Keep the change.”

She walked into a shady pawn shop and immediately asked how much she could get for it. The store owner quietly inspected it, looked at her, and then brought in an expert.

“I’ll buy it for two grand.”

“No way,” she said instinctively. “This thing is worth 7k at least. I’ll sell it for 4.”

She was a skilled negotiator. She watched her mother make deals and haggle with merchants when she was very young. It really helped her later on in her life, so she walked out of the shop without the cash that she desperately needed. She held out for more and held on to the diamond necklace. It will come in handy.

On the following Friday, she packed her bags and planned her escape. With some of the liquid cash she stole from their joint bank account, she could disappear and lay low for a couple of weeks before anybody noticed. She packed as little as possible and made her way to Grand Central Station.

She planned to buy a one-way bus ticket to as far away as possible. She needed to get away from there, and she didn’t care where she went. She had to leave. It didn’t matter where. She would just figure it out from there.

She got on the bus and placed her bag in the overhead bin. She couldn’t erase the memory of the stain on the wall. It was too much to forget, yet she knew that in order to move forward, she needed to face her demons. She didn’t mean to hurt anyone. She had enough of being a pushover. She was so tired of always having to be pleasant and happy towards others as was expected of her. They didn’t know that she was dying inside. She wasn’t happy.

She was miserable and needed to find a way out of it. She considered killing herself but that lasted about a minute. She knew she simply wanted another life. Another way out. Nobody else could help her but herself. 

She had to do something drastic, but she didn’t know she had it in her to assault a man twice her size. She took the money, grabbed the bracelet, and ran out of the pawn shop. She wasn’t going to die that way. No way.

She settled herself in a window seat in one of the back rows. As soon as she sat down, she put on her headphones. Closing her eyes and drowning out the mundane chatter around her, she slipped back in time remembering her happier moments.

It was a cool, fall morning. Traveling overseas for the first time with her mother, she was nearly six years old. During their month-long trip from California to New York, they went to a park overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge to take a few pictures. She marveled at the rows of trees and stopped in awe of autumn leaves. They were an amazing blend of red, orange, yellow, and brown.

Having lived in the Pacific in her childhood, it was the first time she discovered that leaves could actually change colors. In her country, where the season stayed the same, the leaves always stayed green. Her heart always felt a little lighter whenever she went back to that momentarily delight as a little girl. It made such a lasting impression on her.

There was something so pure with the simplicity of jumping on a pile of crunchy leaves for the very first time with a clear view of the Brooklyn Bridge. She would never forget that.

 A couple of years ago, when she cleaned out her mom’s house shortly after she passed away, she found pictures of that sweet moment. Hidden behind some of those pictures were beautifully pressed leaves, leaving a faded blend of the brown and red. She saved them for her, after all those years because there really was something magical about them.

“Eva? Eva Ling?” She was startled at the voice that woke her up. It had been so long since anybody called her that name. Her real name. She had been used to Natalie, her American alter-ego ever since her first day at work in the art gallery a few years ago.

“Irene?” The lights had already dimmed in the bus, but she noticed her signature blonde streaks that highlighted her hair.

Irene didn’t bother to ask if the seat next to her was taken. She just took it, which was an old habit Evelyn got used to when they were roommates at NYU.

“Where are you going?” She asked.

“I’m not sure yet. Probably the last stop.”

“Forget about the last stop. Come with me.”

“Where are you going?”

“Doesn’t matter where. It’s what I’m going to do.”

“What is it?”

Squealing with youthful delight, she said, “I’m going to seduce the world!”

“I thought you already seduced the entire rugby team!”

Irene laughed and took it as a compliment. “Eva Ling, your insults always crack me up, but no, honey, it’s more ambitious than the rugby team this time."


Monday, January 16, 2012

More Creative Writing Workshops Available through Irving Arts Center!

Theme: Summer Art Olympics 2012

Course Description: Exploring the world of visual art is a reliable source of inspiration for writers. Incorporating the theme of the 2012 Summer Olympics, this Creative Writing Workshop will complete fast-paced lessons in different genres such as areas of fiction, memoir, and poetry while learning about legendary athletes, heroes, and Greek mythology. Students in visual arts will develop skills as creative writers, inventive artists, critical thinkers, and collaborators through this workshop. This session will combine writing and interdisciplinary arts in which students produce text-based visual arts projects and oral reading performances.

More details coming soon!